Last week. S.527, the so-call Pregnant Women’s Protection Act which would extend the right to use deadly force to pregnant women who feel threatened, passed on to full committee. To read more about the bill see the coverage in the Post & Courier, WLTX, and SCnow. While Sen. Katrina Shealy, the bill’s sponsor, has publically defended this bill as a response to South Carolina’s #1 ranking in criminal domestic violence crimes, we were proud to learn that Tell Them advocates shared their concerns with Sen. Shealy regarding the bill and why she should vote NO on S.527. Below are excerpts from just a few of our favorite responses:
[…]Having read this bill closely, I do not see how S.527 will do anything to lower rates of violence against women, especially against pregnant women, or support those women currently in domestic violence situations. As you know, the legislation is redundant as pregnant women are already covered under our state's statute. What's worse though is that this bill, with its broad language defining an unborn child from conception until birth, actually harms women by essentially outlawing emergency contraception, a common treatment given to rape victims. We can all agree that we need to do more for domestic violence victims. I urge you to support legislation that will increase funding for victim services, rather than wasting time/tax dollars on legislation that actually harms women. -Sarah G.
Another advocate agreed that if the intent is to support domestic violence survivors, then there are more effective ways than S.527:
[…] My Mother was a victim, and a survivor, of domestic violence. Do not try to play on the emotions that women are weak, and take away more rights in the process. If you do want to go down this particular rabbit hole, may I suggest you writing a bill that promotes Domestic Abuse awareness? Like you, many South Carolinians would love to see more awareness, hotlines for victims, emergent responses from police and harsher sentences for the offenders. […] -Name withheld
The reigning consensus from Tell Them advocates responding? The language is simply too broad and would interfere with women's access to hormonal birth control:
While I certainly agree that a woman, whether pregnant or not, has the right to be protected under the law, I am concerned with the language this bill in particular is using as it could be used to outlaw important birth control options like contraception, the morning-after pill, and even access to safe and legal abortions. All these rights are just as important, and I hope that you will consider holding your support from this bill until the language is more clear and concise. Hiding behind the idea that this bill will help women who suffer from domestic violence (and only while pregnant?) is a convenient fallacy. [...] -Amanda Hamilton
And, you know, Tell Them members don't like it when you take away their freedoms...
Yes, SC is #1 in CDV and that HAS to change. Knowledge, education and the freedom to make our own choices (especially medical) are the true empowering factors that should be protected . Taking away our rights is the true crime against women. [...] I can only imagine the fear sexual assault victims must feel. The State of SC has no business telling these victims (and their medical professionals of choice) how their health may be managed. I'm all for protecting man, woman & child; however, S.527 is a very thinly veiled personhood bill. It's discouraging and sad that pregnant women are being used as pawns to further this agenda. [...] -Name withheld
And that whole argument that ANOTHER "stand your ground" bill is needed to protect the fetus? Nah. These bees ain't having it.
[...] If ANY person is in such gravely violent danger that she may incur such grievous bodily harm as to also harm the fetus IN her body, it's reasonable to expect that the person herself is already justified in using whatever force necessary to protect herself. Section 16-1-60 already applies to a person, pregnant or not pregnant. It is very clear to anyone who reads the bill that the real purpose to amend Section 3, Article 6, Chapter 11, Title 16 of the 1976 Code by adding the following: "Section 16-11-441. (A) As used in this section: (2) 'Unborn child' means the offspring of human beings from conception until birth." This amendment would define personhood as beginning to exist "from conception". […] I've read the bill, I understand the bill and its purpose. I'm a mom of two teens; I know what it's like to be willing to protect one's offspring at ANY cost. I'm ALSO a thinking, voting, contributing citizen of South Carolina, and as such I must implore you rescind your sponsorship and vote NO on S.527. -Name withheld
Cheetos to you, Tell Them advocates for speaking up for the rights of South Carolina women!
Click here to send a THANK YOU email to the two senators who voted against S.527 in subcommittee!